Arizona moves to allow concealed guns in bars
Written by Janet
Back in the days of the old west, cowboys had to check their guns before they could pull up a bar stool for a drink – rules that protected against the saloon gunfights that came to define the frontier era in places like Arizona. But that could change soon.
There’s a bill moving slowly through the Arizona Legislature has some bar owners fearful that the state is turning back the clock to the Old West. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow anyone with a concealed-weapons permit to bring a handgun into bars and restaurants serving alcohol.
This bill will give the bars the discretion to keep gun-toting patrons out, and anyone with a weapon would not be allowed to drink. But the bill has angered bar owners who believe booze and guns are a recipe for disaster.
The bill is part of a nationwide push by the National Rifle Association. Georgia passed a similar law in 2008, as did Tennessee earlier this year in becoming the 40th state to allow bar or restaurant patrons to carry guns.
Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, said it’s about time Arizona passes such a law, and that the most important thing is that people carrying guns into bars aren’t allowed to drink. But many are against this bill.
“You don’t want intoxicated people with weapons, and this bill continues the prohibition against drinking and carrying,” said Kavanagh, a retired police officer in New York and New Jersey. “What is the problem with having a gun in a delicatessen where someone is having a beer with their pastrami two tables away?”
The law would only apply to people with concealed-weapons permits because lawmakers say that type of gun owner has to pass a background check and take an eight-hour course to get their permits, and are therefore safer. More than 127,000 Arizonans have concealed-weapons permits, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Arizonans are also allowed to openly carry guns – on a belt or holster, for example. But those people would still not be allowed in bars or restaurants serving alcohol if they’re armed. The bill has been approved by the Senate and is now before the House; Republican Gov. Jan Brewer would still have to OK it.
Marc Peagler, owner of the Silver Spur Saloon Restaurant in Cave Creek outside Phoenix says, people with concealed-weapons permits aren’t people to be concerned about. People who carry concealed weapons for the most part are your general law-abiding citizens, and the people who are going to break the law are going to do it no matter what laws we have out there.
Frank Murray, owner of Seamus McCaffrey’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in downtown Phoenix, said he opposes the law and will prohibit his customers from coming in armed. He said there’s enough nuts out there already on the streets, they dont’ need anymore.
The Arizona Licensed Beverage Association threw its support behind the bill after some compromises were made this week. The Arizona Restaurant Association has taken a neutral stance, but in previous years came out against most bills that would have allowed guns in bars and restaurants with alcohol.
This year’s bill is one of several measures loosening gun laws moving through the Arizona Legislature.